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How to Make a Basic Skirt

Added Dec 31, 2010

by Jamie Lau

Brooklyn, New Yo...






This tutorial walks you through how to draft a basic one-dart skirt sloper. This exercise can lead to other designs and variations including an A-line flare, inverted box pleats, and side drapes. For this project, I also added a straight waistband to the skirt, modeled here with my favorite vintage Bernhard Altmann cashmere top and Ferragamo kitten heels. This project was sewn in a Liberty of London floral cotton print and lined with a copper silk charmeuse. Photos were taken in the stacks of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, a Beaux-Arts landmark building.

Material Notes

Pattern paper, Mechanical pencil, Eraser, Transparent ruler, Drafting curve, Awl, Notcher, Tracing paper, Tracing wheel, 1 yard of self fabric (cotton), 1 yard of lining fabric (silk charmeuse), 1/8 yard fusible interfacing, 1 7-inch invisible zipper, 1 sew-on snap, thread. (Please note that yardage will vary depending on your own personal measurements and fabric width.)



Related Techniques


Spring, Summer, Fall
Garment Type
Casual, Classic, Preppy, Vintage
Cotton, Silk



24 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Image_large

    Jan 17, 2013, 02.40 AMby Meldbombs

    Can this be done with a knit?

    2 Replies
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      Jan 17, 2013, 05.19 PMby Jamie Lau

      I have not tried this in a knit, but if you do, I suspect you must eliminate all the ease that you would normally use in a woven.

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      Jan 17, 2013, 10.14 PMby Meldbombs

      Thanks! I think I am gonna use the instructions for a dress sloper on burda but only for the bodice and the pencil skirt for the lower dress. I have no idea about sleeves and I may want to do a cowl neck, all in blue jersey knit. But I am not sure if maybe this is too advanced, I’ve had my fair share of pattern sewing and that is why I am looking here, so I can get the right fit

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    Nov 27, 2012, 01.38 PMby Meldbombs

    This is a great comprehensive guide to pattern drafting. You may have mentioned and I missed it, but what paper do you use? I noticed you live in Brooklyn, I also do, where can I get this paper or should it be ordered online? Also as a side note, do you know where to get jersey knit outside the Garment District? Thanks, Melissa

    2 Replies
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      Nov 29, 2012, 02.14 PMby Jamie Lau

      Hi Melissa,

      I use basic pattern making paper (but you can also use plain white paper as well). There is Sil Thread in the Garment District where you can get paper. In terms of jersey knit, I’m not sure of stores outside of the garment district, but I know there is an affordable fabric store called Fabric Barn Corp in Brooklyn. You can give them a call first before going. Other than that, there are tons of online stores that may have large selections of jersey knit, such as Hart’s Fabric: http://www.hartsfabric.com/fashion-apparel-knit-fabrics-jersey-knits.html.

    • Image_large

      Nov 30, 2012, 08.33 PMby Meldbombs

      Thanks! I will definitely check out the places you suggested

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    Feb 7, 2012, 03.56 PMby candice25

    It’s very chick and feminine, perfectly suits my style. Working as a company representative for a Navajo Transit system, I need a dress that I will feel comfortable and at the same time feel like myself. I just can’t wait to try this on. You are my life saver.

  • Missing

    Sep 29, 2011, 09.06 PMby jmspencer1984

    This is fantastic!! I finished working up my sloper yesterday and sewed up a quick-and-dirty muslin to test the fit. I have to admit, I was skeptical. My muslin turned out so nice, I’m kicking myself for not using matching thread or a matching zipper. It totally could have been a wearable skirt. WOW. Thank you so much. I have a great new skirt pattern and I learned a lot about my shape and size in the process. I’ll be much more confident with altering other patterns for fit now. I’m off to work on my first ‘real’ skirt from this sloper!

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Oct 13, 2011, 11.41 PMby Jamie Lau

      Congrats! It is such an essential in sewing and pattern making!

  • Missing

    Aug 5, 2011, 01.53 PMby papa

    So I’m in the middle of making this skirt. I’ve inserted the zipper but haven’t yet sewn up the back seam. However, I’ve noticed that my skirt keeps riding up and creasing in the crotch area. I have a small waist and, small hips, but a large derriere. The fabric that I"m using is woven, midweight, but a little stiff. Can u help me with this problem?

  • Missing

    May 18, 2011, 12.25 AMby onlyifs


    How would you make this a skinny skirt?

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      May 19, 2011, 05.40 PMby Jamie Lau


      This skirt is pretty slim-fitting already. To make it a pencil skirt, you can move in towards center front and center back up to 2 1/2 inches from the base by the side seam. Then, blend up from this new point to below the low hip line, creating a new side seam. Just make sure it doesn’t come to a point there.


  • Mariona1c-copy_2_large

    Jan 29, 2011, 07.58 AMby marionalloreta

    Hi Jamie! I have fallen in love with this skirt! I have started working on it today,and I am so excited!

    Can you please help me understand what the term “square off” or “square down” means? I am a bit confused and I know its used throughtout your instructions. Thank you so much!!! "
    2 Replies
    • Project_image_1_large

      Feb 2, 2011, 05.37 PMby Jamie Lau

      Hi! “Square off” means to draw a straight line for X amount of inches so that things don’t come to a point when drafted/sewn up. For instance in Step 6:

      “Drop down 1/2 inch from A along center front and mark N. Square off 3/4 inch at center front in a right angle starting at N, then use a drafting curve to shape your front waist, ending at K.”

      This means that from the new point N, you will draw a line perpendicular to center front for 3/4 inch. Then, you can use your curve to finish off the waist. The squaring off is that 3/4 inch so that things don’t come to a point and will be smoother since that is your center front.

      Can’t wait to see your finished project. Let me know if you need more clarification!

    • Mariona1c-copy_2_large

      Feb 2, 2011, 08.06 PMby marionalloreta

      Thank you so much Jamie! I can’t wait to keep working on it!

  • Cana14dec10pt5a_large

    Jan 12, 2011, 05.07 PMby c79helium

    Love it!!!

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    Jan 12, 2011, 04.58 PMby lesyoung

    love the color of the skirt. great job of detailing how to make the skirt

    1 Reply
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      Oct 1, 2011, 05.24 AMby katy25

      This skirt is really neat-looking and pretty. I couldn’t help but ask my mom to sew me just like this one. I’ll be reading more posts from you so keep it going please. custom research paper

  • Missing

    Jan 11, 2011, 08.35 AMby Lesley Jeffery

    Commercial dress patterns are no longer available in my country, so Burda has come tops with their assistance regarding slopers, now to have some fun.

  • Missing

    Jan 11, 2011, 08.30 AMby Lesley Jeffery

    Thank you for the skirt sloper, which I can now add to the bodice, and trousers slopers that I was able to download from Burda. No excuses now to try my hand at drafting and getting articles made to fit me something that I have wanted to do for years. Keep up the good work.

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 11, 2011, 03.04 PMby Jamie Lau

      Hi Lesley,

      I’m glad that you find this project helpful. After you create your sloper, you can design tons of skirts! Please post your finished projects. We’d love to see!


  • Me_pecks_large

    Jan 5, 2011, 11.53 PMby nessys

    I haven’t started this tutorial yet – but all the responses seem very positive! Thanks so much for putting this up. I recently got burnt big time with a dodgy pencil skirt pattern (I know, I know, I should have made a muslin up first!) so I definitely think this is the way to go. I must admit – the idea of drafting my own pattern scares me to death – but this seems “do-able”! So again, thanks! x

    PS – As a person who is self taught, and has had very few people around her that have an interest in sewing I have often wondered re the term “sloper”…. is it pronounced as in “slope” like a hill or “slop” like a mess? (Maybe if I had made one up of the last skirt it wouldn’t have turned into such a “slop”!!) I am displaying both my ignorance and isolation in asking this question!!!

    2 Replies
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 07.02 AMby Jamie Lau

      I can totally sympathize with you. Sometimes I get so eager and excited to finish a project that I go for the gusto and try to rush and make it in fashion fabric and bypass muslin. However, what I’ve learned from sewing is that patience pays off and that being a little OCD doesn’t hurt (and will save you money in the long run).

      In terms of sloper, it’s not pronounced like a Sloppy Joe, but like a slope (e.g, as it is applied in economics or when going skiing). Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you give this project a shot!

    • Me_pecks_large

      Jan 10, 2011, 07.36 AMby nessys

      Thanks for clearing that up Jamie Honey. Yes – 3 cheers for ocd! xx

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    Jan 5, 2011, 07.35 PMby mariejessie

    I looked up Liberty of London and found this pattern in the Tana Lawn collection. Is the the Tana lawn a cotton lawn? I wouldn’t normally think of making a fitted skirt out of a lawn fabric as it is so light and filmy – I wouldn’t expect it to wear well or long. Is L of L’s Tana Lawn a sturdier weave than a standard cotton lawn?

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 6, 2011, 06.56 AMby Jamie Lau

      Hi! This fabric is pretty sturdy with a fairly tight weave and high thread count. But I highly recommend lining the skirt in silk or rayon and interfacing the waistband.

  • 06413bac480f3b09d80c476834e44f2a21701db9_large

    Jan 4, 2011, 10.23 PMby littleredfox

    looks so great!! and sorry to be so dense, but how do you define the word “sloper?” is it a term for a basic skirt pattern?

    1 Reply
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    Jan 4, 2011, 07.37 PMby c79helium

    Awwwe so cute Jamie!!!

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    Jan 4, 2011, 04.58 PMby Lola Linguag

    Ohhh I like it

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    Jan 4, 2011, 02.29 PMby FabricUiPhoneApp

    Liberty of London fabrics rock…and they’re so soft it’s hard to believe they’re made of fine cotton. I’ve listed ‘em in my fabric iPhone app, they’re so terrific. Better to use ’em in something you can wear and be seen in vs. something you hang on a wall or put on a bed (a quilt).

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    Jan 4, 2011, 11.23 AMby radhiaw

    Very pretty!

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    Jan 4, 2011, 10.28 AMby lovelypolly

    like like like it!!! the fabric is beautiful!

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 4, 2011, 01.29 PMby Jamie Lau

      Thanks! It’s good ol’ Liberty of London!

  • 8024e161d1ea2cbfffe4498a56f81d1220a7a8e3_large

    Jan 4, 2011, 09.44 AMby girlywhirly

    Really like it – this is def on my to-do list. Thanks Burdastyle!

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    Jan 4, 2011, 12.03 AMby Testosterone

    Impressive! Stylish! Coquettish too!

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    Jan 3, 2011, 11.12 PMby carottesauvage

    Elegant yet perky. The skirt goes well with your sweet knitted top! Love the library setting too ;)

    2 Replies
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 3, 2011, 11.29 PMby Jamie Lau

      Thanks! Think of it as my homage to my favorite librarian across the pond!

    • Avatar3_large

      Jan 3, 2011, 11.54 PMby carottesauvage

      Sweet! I have to make some effort to dress a bit more elegantly at work though :) But now I am inspired!x

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    Jan 3, 2011, 10.50 PMby ruthieburda

    Love it Jamie!! Great work!

    1 Reply
    • Project_image_1_large

      Jan 3, 2011, 11.28 PMby Jamie Lau

      Thanks, Ruth! When I saw the fabric at B&J, I just had to get it!

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    Jan 3, 2011, 10.42 PMby wzrdreams

    This is really classic. Nice job Burdastyle!

    • This is a question
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